Planning your expository essay is a very good idea. Your expository essay is similar to an investigation and allows you to do numerous things such as expose weaknesses, strengths, pros, cons, etc. Planning is important because it helps you organize your essay, helps make it easier to write, and helps to maintain the correct flow and avoid confusion. The outline is a big part of the planning process, and some people use the outline alone as their plan, so here are some tips relating to your expository essay and its outline.
Pick a framework if one has not already been picked
Your professor may have told you the type of framework to pick, if not you should pick one. You may want your exposition to come out like a narrative story, or you may want to gather all evidence and then analyze and evaluate it. You may wish to go over each piece of evidence individually, analyze it and evaluate it and then move on to the next point/piece of evidence.
A simple structure/framework may be all that is needed
If you are struggling to think up a framework for your outline and essay, then simply use a simple one such as Introduction, Body and Conclusion. You can use more sophisticated frameworks, but a simple one will work so long as you are concise, clear and your essay flows well.
Research before you pick your topic
This is just common sense because the last thing you want to do is pick a topic and then discover there is little research out there on the subject. You will spend most of the essay trying to use logic and reasoning because you have little else to go on.
Also, there are probably other essays out there on the Internet that are similar in theme and topic to yours. Do they show their outline? If so, could you steal ideas from them? It isn’t cheating it you are bending the outline to your will any more than it is cheating if you use an idiom that you didn’t invent.
Try to pick a topic that you are already passionate about
If you do this then you will find the essay a lot easier to write. You will also find that writing the outline is easier too. All the outline is, is a framework with the biggest issues inserted and a view to how they interconnect. If you are passionate about a subject then you probably already know what the big issues are and how they connect. You will also be aware of all the places you can research the topic and places you can find further information. The research and writing process will become less of a slog and more like fun (a little like blogging).
Over-write your essays and then cut it down later
This is a classic trick that you should try. Ignore the word count and keep writing and adding points until your essay is an epic piece of work. Then comes the hard bit because you have to pick through the work and remove all the fluff. Remove all the bits that you can live without and make your entire essay more concise.
What you are doing is cutting away the excess in order to leave you with the bits that are pure gold. You narrow them down and make them more concise so that you can fit them into the word count. Even the things that didn’t seem to matter as much can be added in because you are within the word count. This method is far better than writing too little and then having to fluff up your writing with excessive wordage so you reach the word count limit.
Your outline deals with bigger issues
This means you must resist the temptation to fill it with the smaller issues and points you wish to make. These may all be added into the essay plan. The outline just shows the big stuff, and that can be difficult for some because the big issues may contain lots of little issues, but that is okay because you can copy your outline and use it as a basis for your plan, at which point you can put in all the small points you like.
Your outline should show how the larger issues interconnect. Since it is an expository essay, you should be able to show how they connect by relating them to your conclusion and/or your thesis statement. If they are not direct affecters then they should at least be moving the plot/process along.
How do your bigger issues connect?
If you cannot think of how your bigger issues connect with the theme, topic or thesis, then you should seriously question their inclusion in your outline. You may be adding details, points or issues that are superfluous to your essay.